Many people take summer vacations, but is it really a “summer vacation” when someone peaces out in the midst of a scandal? Late night host Jimmy Kimmel is taking some time off, but a growing number of voices are suggesting he make that hiatus permanent and #CancelKimmel is trending on Twitter. Here’s the deal:
Kimmel is one of many celebrities whose reputations have been called to question over past behavior. Case in point: Vanderpump Rules fired cast members over racially offensive behaviors from years prior. Late-night peer Jimmy Fallon was called out for wearing blackface in 2000, and now Kimmel’s previous work has also come under fire. Newsweek reported that Kimmel used the “n-word” while impersonating rapper Snoop Dogg for a 1996 Christmas comedy album. Kimmel also prank called the president of Comedy Central using an impersonation of comedian George Wallace in 2013, reported Fox News. Additionally, Kimmel reportedly wore blackface on The Man Show to portray basketball great Karl Malone and to spoof talk show titan Oprah Winfrey, portraying a character named “Oprah Jimfrey.”
Kimmel’s controversy coincided with the announcement in June 2020 that he was taking a break from Jimmy Kimmel Live. “I’ve been doing this job for almost 18 years. I’ve done 3,130 shows. And there’s nothing wrong, my family is healthy, I’m healthy, I just need a couple of months off,” he said, per the New York Post.
But will Kimmel even have a show to come back to at the end of his summer vacation? Let’s take a closer look at the uproar and find out what Kimmel has to say about it.
Jimmy Kimmel 'prefers' to impersonate Black people
Jimmy Kimmel reportedly discussed his propensity to impersonate Black people during a 2013 podcast with fellow comic and former The Man Show host Adam Carolla. According to Newsweek, a fan asked, “Jimmy, do you only do Black people?” Kimmel responded, “I prefer them, yes.”
In June 2020, Kimmel addressed the controversy over comedy sketches from his past. “I have long been reluctant to address this, as I knew doing so would be celebrated as a victory by those who equate apologies with weakness and cheer for leaders who use prejudice to divide us. That delay was a mistake,” he said, per Deadline. “There is nothing more important to me than your respect, and I apologize to those who were genuinely hurt or offended by the makeup I wore or the words I spoke.”
Kimmell specifically addressed wearing blackface to impersonate basketball pro Karl Malone. “We hired makeup artists to make me look as much like Karl Malone as possible. I never considered that this might be seen as anything other than an imitation of a fellow human being, one that had no more to do with Karl’s skin color than it did his bulging muscles and bald head.” The late-night host added, “I’ve done dozens of impressions of famous people, including Snoop Dogg, Oprah, Eminem, Dick Vitale, Rosie, and many others. In each case, I thought of them as impersonations of celebrities and nothing more. Looking back, many of these sketches are embarrassing, and it is frustrating that these thoughtless moments have become a weapon used by some to diminish my criticisms of social and other injustices.”
Jimmy Kimmel says he has 'evolved and matured'
In his apology statement, Jimmy Kimmel said he has “evolved and matured over the last twenty-plus years, and I hope that is evident to anyone who watches my show. I know that this will not be the last I hear of this and that it will be used again to try to quiet me. I love this country too much to allow that. I won’t be bullied into silence by those who feign outrage to advance their oppressive and genuinely racist agendas,” he said, per Deadline.
The late-night host also addressed the timing of his hiatus from Jimmy Kimmel Live. “My summer vacation has been planned for more than a year and includes the next two summers off as well. I will be back to work in September. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to explain and to those I’ve disappointed, I am sorry.”
At this time, Kimmel is slated to host the 72nd Emmy Awards in September 2020.
Jimmy Kimmel comes under fire over Megan Fox comment
Jimmy Kimmel’s use of blackface and the n-word in comedy sketches isn’t the only controversial material from his past that is fueling the #cancelkimmel campaign of 2020. A 2009 interview with Transformers star Megan Fox has also sparked outrage. In that interview on Kimmel’s late show, Fox talked about working with director Michael Bay, particularly an early experience as an extra in a club scene in Bay’s Bad Boys 2 when she was just 15 years old.
“I was wearing a stars and stripes bikini and a red cowboy hat and six-inch heels … and [Bay] approved it,” Fox said. Because of her age, the crew supposedly told Bay he couldn’t “sit her at the bar” with a drink, “so his solution to that problem was to then have me dancing underneath the waterfall, getting soaking wet … That’s sort of a microcosm of how Bay’s mind works,” Fox said.
In response, Kimmel quipped, “That’s really a microcosm of how all our minds work, but some of us have the decency to repress those thoughts and pretend that they don’t exist.”
At the time of this writing, Kimmel has not responded to criticism about that interview with Fox, but she did appear to address that situation, and others, in an Instagram post: “Please hear me when I say thank you for the support,” she said. “But these particular instances were inconsequential in a long and arduous journey along which I have endured some genuinely harrowing experiences in a ruthlessly misogynistic industry.”
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